When I started buying vinyl in my teens I had a few options. There were great dedicated record stores with huge selections in any genre you wanted. My personal favourite will always be Sam The Record Man on Yonge Street in Toronto. But there was also A&A, Round Records and many others. Then there were records available in department stores and audio shops. These stores were all dealing in new records. And of course there were a number of great used record stores. I spend many hours in Vortex Records on Dundas Street E. around the corner from Sam’s and way too conveniently near university for the health of my grades. The department stores like Eatons also had catalog orders. Full disclosure, I bought my first two albums by catalog order from Eatons: Cat Stevens – Teaser and the Fire Cat and Gordon Lightfoot – Cold On the Shoulder. The other option was the mail order Record of the Month Clubs.
The most notable of these record of the month clubs were Columbia House and RCA which was later BMG. The deal was buy a ton of records for as little as a penny and then pay for dozens of more albums on a monthly basis paying inflated prices plus shipping. The end result was you paid way more per album than you would have if you had just gone into your local store and bought them individually.
With the resurgence of vinyl the record club is also coming back. And coming back in a multitude of unique ways. Some clubs are offering a curation service where they select
Another quasi record of the month service is Run out groove. The difference with ROG is fans choose what will be pressed from a selection of three possible albums each month. Once fans have voted, a 30 day window is opened for fans to purchase the album. Once the purchasing window is closed, ROG announces the number of copies to be pressed. These are number and truly limited editions. The choices are sometimes reissues, but can also be completely new compilations of previously released and unreleased music.
But these are just the tip of the emerging vinyl iceberg. Check out these vinyl subscription services…
Here’s a few that I’ve reviewed to date –